How Long Does USPS Forward Mail? (All You Need To Know)

You packed your boxes, transferred the utilities, and passed your key to the next owner. You’re almost ready to move; don’t forget to set up USPS mail forwarding! 

Whether you’re moving your personal residence or business, mail forwarding ensures you’ll continue receiving greeting cards, magazines, and (unfortunately) bills. Want to find out how it works? Then keep reading!

How Long Does USPS Forward Mail?

Most USPS mail, including First-Class, Priority, and First-Class package services, are forwarded for 12 months. However, USPS only forwards Periodicals like magazines and newspapers for 60 days. Generally, USPS doesn’t forward Marketing Mail like flyers or circulars. Mail forwarding starts seven to ten business days after USPS receives the Change of Address Form.

If you’re curious to learn how mail forwarding works and why you should set it up, keep reading!

Does USPS Forward Mail?

In short, USPS does forward mail, provided you’ve filled out the proper paperwork.

That said, USPS requires customers to submit a Change of Address (COA) form to start mail forwarding, also called a PS Form 3575.

Further, here are the three types of COA forms and directions on who should complete which form:


Use this form if only one person in the household is moving or multiple people (e.g., roommates) are moving to different places.


Complete this form if everyone in your household shares the same last name and moves to the same place.


File a business COA form if you’re authorized to forward mail on behalf of your business.

A business COA form holds if the entire business changes its address, even if various people receive mail from the company.

How Does USPS Know To Forward Mail?

USPS forwards mail when it receives a Change of Address form from an individual, a family, or a business.

You can complete a paper copy of the form at your local post office. Then, either hand the completed form to the USPS sales associate or drop it in a USPS mailbox.

No matter how you drop the form off, both methods are free of charge.

Alternatively, you can complete the form online. You’ll need a credit or debit card and a valid email address to do so. That said, online filing costs $1.10.

Also, there’s an identity verification fee to prevent fraud, and make sure you’re the one requesting the change.

Why Should I Have USPS Forward My Mail?

Having your mail forwarded ensures you don’t miss any crucial communications from family, friends, or companies.

While it’s true that most companies will already know about your move when you transfer your utilities or internet service, there’s a good chance you’ll forget at least one lesser-known service you have.

Also, mail forwarding is helpful if a forgetful aunt or a long-lost friend decides to send you a birthday card out of the blue.

Chances are they’ll send the card to your old address, and without mail forwarding, you’ll never receive it!

How Does USPS Temporary Mail Forwarding Work?

How Does USPS Temporary Mail Forwarding Work?

Mail forwarding for a temporary change of address is virtually the same as mail forwarding for a permanent change of address.

However, what’s different is that you’ll fill in a mail forwarding end date for a temporary change of address (up to six months in the future).

So, you’ll leave this part of the form blank if the move is permanent. In this case, mail forwarding will continue for 12 months.

Otherwise, everything else about the two services is the same. For example, both ensure that USPS will continue to deliver your First-Class mail for a specified period.

It’s a free service in both cases, except if you choose to complete the COA form online. If you file online, there’s a $1.10 identity verification fee.

Does USPS Charge For Mail Forwarding?

Standard mail forwarding is a free service USPS offers, provided you complete a Change of Address form. That said, this form is free if you complete a hard copy. 

However, if you choose to complete the online version of the form, USPS will charge your credit or debit card a $1.10 identity verification fee.

In addition to standard mail forwarding, USPS offers Premium Forwarding Service® (PFS®) options for a fee.

Moreover, PFS-Residential® collects all the mail addressed to you or anyone in your household and then forwards it to your new address in a single weekly shipment.

If you choose this service, there’s an initial setup fee of $20.10 online or $22.75 in person. Then, it costs $22.75 per week after that.

In addition, Premium Forwarding Service Commercial® allows business customers with an active PO box or street address to forward all mail to a domestic business address temporarily.

The mail is forwarded using Priority Mail Express or Priority Mail.

Furthermore, enrollment in Premium Forwarding Service Commercial® costs $20.90.

Then, each subsequent shipment is charged based on postage class and the requested reshipment frequency.

Does USPS Forwarded Mail Take Longer To Arrive?

Forwarded mail will likely take a bit longer to arrive than regular mail. Whereas most First-Class mail arrives in seven days or less, forwarded mail can take up to 12 days.

That said, delivery times are longer for forwarded mail because it has to be processed twice.

Initially, the mail is routed toward the address printed on the item. When it arrives at a regional sorting facility, workers will note the change of address and attach a new address label.

Then, the mail is re-sorted and sent to the new address.

To learn more about USPS services, you can also see our posts on whether or not USPS packages are insured, how long USPS holds boxes, and if USPS first-class has tracking.

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Marques Thomas

Marques Thomas graduated with a MBA in 2011. Since then, Marques has worked in the retail and consumer service industry as a manager, advisor, and marketer. Marques is also the head writer and founder of

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